Public Enemies, the Wisconsin-filmed gangster movie starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, doesn't open till July 1. But here's an early sign of more hoopla to come: Word that Point Cinema will host a screening of Public Enemies one day early, on June 30. The event benefits Film Wisconsin, the Milwaukee-based nonprofit that promotes filmmaking here in the Badger State. Advance screenings also will take place June 30 at Marcus Oshkosh Cinemas and Marcus Majestic Cinema in Milwaukee.
The news arrives amid debate over the policy that brought Depp and Bale here in the first place. In his 2009-2011 budget proposal, Gov. Jim Doyle has suggested eliminating tax credits designed to lure Hollywood filmmakers to Wisconsin. The state faces a crushing budget shortfall, and critics say the tax incentives are simply a boondoggle.
But Film Wisconsin executive director Scott Robbe says filmmaking in Wisconsin creates high-paying jobs. "In these times, it's all about re-invention to rebuild Wisconsin's destroyed economy," he says. "This is one answer. By the way, Michigan has now made over 70 films thanks to their incentive program."
Public Enemies will be the blockbuster of the summer, Robbe predicts. "The positive spotlight it will shine on Wisconsin in terms of value in media dollars is, as they say, priceless," he says.
"Without an incentives program in Wisconsin, you will never see a film like Public Enemies done here ever again," says Robbe. "Canada, Illinois, Michigan and even Iowa all use incentives to capture film business. It's an $80 billion-a-year business globally, and very competitive. If Wisconsin wants a slice of that business, it is vital they have a strong program."
Universal released the first trailer for the movie back in March and is revving up its promotional engine as the opening date approaches, releasing character one-sheets, TV spots, and a second trailer now in theaters.